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New Civil Administrator Takes Charge in Iraq - 2003-05-12

A high-profile Iraqi scientist is now in the custody of Coalition forces. And the new American civilian administrator, Paul Bremer, has assumed the job of reconstructing Iraq. Carol Pearson has the latest on Iraq.

Dr. Rihab Rashid Taha is a microbiologist who ran Iraq’s biological weapons facility. Dr. Taha turned herself over to Coalition forces after negotiating a surrender. She is known as Dr. Germ because of her work in creating weapons-grade anthrax.

U.S. administrators want to determine whether she has information that could help in the on-going search inside Iraq for weapons of mass destruction.

In other news, the new American civilian administrator, Paul Bremer, arrived in Iraq Monday with the man he is replacing, retired General Jay Garner and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers.

Mr. Bremer said he expects to work closely with General Garner and pledges to rebuild Iraq as soon as possible.

“The coalition forces did not come to colonize Iraq. They came to overthrow a despotic regime. That’s what we’ve done and now our job is to turn and help the Iraqi people regain control of their own destiny, to help the Iraqi society rebuild on the basis of individual liberties, respect for the rule of law and respect for each other. That’s our job now. We’re not here to be a colonial power. We’re here to help turn over as quickly as we can efficiently do it to the Iraqi people their country.”

Arsonists still roam Baghdad, as do looters. Many Iraqis complain that progress has been too slow in restoring law and order and basic services like water and electricity.

Huge quantities of unexploded ordnance remain in the Iraqi capital. Many children have been wounded while at play.

A team of demining experts from Mozambique is clearing mines and bullet casings from the area.

And Iraqi Shiite leader Ayatollah Mohammed Baqer al-Hakim ended his 23 years of exile in Iran and returned to the Iraqi holy city of Najaf.

His motorcade was greeted by thousands of people, many of whom waited for hours in the afternoon heat.

The 66-year-old cleric has been critical of the presence of foreign troops in Iraq.